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Oct 15, 2010 10:25 AM

What on earth has happend to Design and layout

Hi Guys,

I haven't been on the site for some time. Probably about 2 years.

When I worked for Jamie Oliver, Chow had a great design, exciting editorial content, videos, awesome layout and typography.

We considered it a real benchmark for exciting and innovate food news online.

What has happened?

It seems to be just a mess of adverts, and a mish mash of content.

Did someone leave? Did the company get closed down or did the entire creative team just quit?

what happened, does anyone know?


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  1. If it's been 2 years since you've logged on, you've missed a couple of redesigns. They call it progress. /shrug

    1 Reply
    1. re: tzurriz

      I have been a web designer for 11 years and this is a massive step backwards. It was a gorgeous site. It is a mess now

    2. It's like Microsoft - "improving" Office by completing changing the interface so that stuff you knew how to do instinctively suddenly was a mystery. If it ain't broke...

      2 Replies
      1. re: FrankD

        Sadly... these big corporates dont have a clue. It isnt about content, it isnt about food. its about advertising, its about ROI and its about making money. MAXIMISING PROFIT.

        Something great, and something creative has the LIFE SUCKED out of it becuase some big shot exec at the top decides the numbers need to be a little higher.

        So all the creative people leave and the once fantastic product, goes down the toilet.

        1. re: robbie.lockie

          Not sure about the CHOW team jumping ship, I still see many familiar names contributing to the content but I completely agree about the layout. I was logged in using a friends AOL account once and the CHOW page was completely unreadable. The comment section framing is off and overall design is confusing to the eye. If you have a small screen, you're def. having a lousy experience. I haven't bothered with CHOW at all since the recent site rework and I was a fan before it.

      2. I never wander over to Chow so I had to go see for myself. Had I visited searching for answers to my food questions and was presented with that page I'd see it as a weird lightweight vanity effort and wouldn't take the time to investigate further based on the home page:
        Right Now On Chow
        * Debbie11 commented on:
        No-Worry, No-Boil Lasagne
        * tonbo0422 commented on:
        Drunken Guest from Hell
        * bald lemon co. commented on:
        Australian Muesli Bars Bore to Tears
        * pluckymama commented on:
        You Won't Get Rich Cooking, But You Might Die Trying
        * twinwillow commented on:
        The Basics: How to Make Basic Steak
        * lgnutah commented on:
        Spending $443.48 on Dinner at Whole Foods
        * Hapgood commented on:
        How to Cook a Squirrel
        * egon61 commented on:
        Should You Tip on Takeout?
        * kukubura commented on:
        Don't Get Suckered at the Farmers' Market

        Ramen Basics for the Noodle Novice Nacho Recipes How to Stir-Fry with Grace Young The 2010 CHOW 13 The Basics: How to Make Basic Steak The Perfect Salad

        * » Recipes
        * » Grace Young's Stir-Fried Ginger Beef with Sugar Snaps and Carrots
        * » Celery Root and Mushroom Stuffing
        * » Braised Pork Chops and Fennel
        * » Celery Root Pur�e
        * » Grilled Steak Quesadillas
        * » Celery Root Soup

        * » Discussion
        * » Diabetic Dessert for Party
        * » Lasagna sans Ricotta?
        * » What discontinued products do you miss?
        * » Please help me choose....Eleven Madison Park or Gilt for my Birthday?
        * » Looking for Best Craft Beer Bars in the Bay Area
        * » Favorite Hotdog Toppings

        * » Stories
        * » Lame Marketing, Decent Chips
        * » Pumpkin + Beer = Clever ... For a Minute
        * » Camino Does Oktoberfest
        * » New Faces, New Fish at Sebo
        * » Keeping Indonesian Food Lovers Sataysfied
        * » Overheard on the San Francisco Bay Area Board

        * » Videos
        * » The Perfect Salad
        * » How to Clear Your Drain (Without Breaking It)
        * » How to Stir-Fry with Grace Young
        * » How to Avoid Diluted Iced Coffee
        * » How to Make Cold-Brewed Coffee
        * » Daniel Humm's Go-To Dish

        Mish-mash indeed.

        4 Replies
        1. re: MplsM ary

          When posted as you have the mish mash can be eye opening indeed but hardly unique to any number of magazines still in print. Headlines grab attention; both good & bad & ugly. I'd love to see the usability return.

          1. re: HillJ

            I think the problem with the new Chow is that it's hard to locate the section of interest if it doesn't happen to be one of the areas featured (by picture only) at the top of the screen. At least with a typical print magazine there is some sort of table of contents you can look at that will tell you where each section is. I have complained multiple times about the new layout on site talk and none of the promised changes of a ride side nav (with something other than most recent posts) have yet to occur.

            1. re: queencru

              I completely agree, queencru. I'm disappointed for the team and for the lack of company resources applied to that side of the site.

              1. re: HillJ

                I used to visit that side a lot more before the changes. Now it's just too time consuming to try to find what I want to see.

        2. What is the difference between and I'd not heard of before, so I went and looked, and the signage looks identical, and I see links back to stuff I'm reading on

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jay F

            mazagine/blog/video content with a paid staff
            vs. a community driven message board Mod'd by volunteers

          2. I've been posting on Chowhound for years and was never aware of back at the beginning. I believe it was a totally separate site, operated by CNet and the two were merged when CNet bought Chowhound in 2006. CBS then bought CNet in 2008. The site visuals were changed around that time too.

            For me, the Chowhound boards are the place for food and restaurant intelligience.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Midlife

              My understanding was that under CNET the magazine format was launched, CHOW, and both have been navigational from each other ( ( since that time. The layout, design and team have gone thru several changes since CNET....and I imagine will continue to be. My dh & I have been posting under this s/n since 2006 and under another from the time JL launched CH.

              1. re: HillJ

                Curious as to what 'time' you're refering to. I'm not sure what was like or exactly when it was created, but I'm opretty sure that I was aware that it did exist at the time CNet acquired these boards. The domain name "chow.,com" has been in existance since 1995, and since 1996. Did Jim register and create both of them?

                1. re: Midlife

                  You'll have to ask JL. No clue on his part regarding CHOW. Or when the domain took hold. What I recall as a member is a non-CNET message board and JL at the helm. Then a CNET partnership with new interface for, then a CHOW mag, then a CBS sale, and the last three redesigns under CBS. I'm sure fellow CH's can specify the timeline and the evolution far better than I can.

                  1. re: Midlife

                    My understanding is that and were completely separate sites that just so happened to have an overlapping audience. And when CNET bought them both, they decided that the two sites should hook up.

                    Here's an interview that sheds some light on the history:

                    In any case, I agree that the redesign of 2010 was pretty much an unqualified failure. They made a few adjustments after numerous complaints, but obviously not enough to keep the site usable. I'm not sure why they haven't changed back to their previous design; my guess is that someone's ego is on the line.

                    1. re: guilty

                      Thanks for the link guilty!

                      Jane Goldman states: Jim Leff co-founded Chowhound in 1997, and he sold it to CNET in March 2006. During all those years it was staffed with volunteers, paid for by the founders and a few occasional donations. I founded CHOW magazine with Carol Balacek, who ran the business side. It was completely unrelated to Chowhound. It was a print magazine, and the first issue appeared in November, 2004. CNET acquired CHOW magazine in April 2006. CNET's intention was to combine the two, and we all started working for CNET in May.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        So you DO know the story. The only missing link appears to be whether there was a website called before 2006, who owned it, and what it was all about. The article link says there was.

                        1. re: Midlife

                          I only recall seeing a new addition to in the form of a CHOW mag at the time CNET took on the forum. I thought Jane brought CHOW to the party; but, JL is the go to person for more specifics.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            To fill in the blanks: When the magazine CHOW existed, its online counterpart's URL was; was at the time a domain registered by somebody with the name Chow so his family members could have a Chow email address. CNET had enough money and clout (or whatever it took) to get the Chow domain.

                            I also want to say thanks for this thread. I've got some questions, but mostly it's very helpful to hear these observations.

                            1. re: jane

                              jane, we discussed this on another post a bit as well but that threawd was deleted by Moderation. If you would consider doing a video piece thru CHOW that introduces yourself to CH's and the interesting site history under your involvement, we would surely welcome your voice.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                Happy to discuss, HillJ - wondering why video? So you can see the evolution of the design?

                                1. re: jane

                                  Put a face to CHOW. The video format on CHOW is member friendly and so you can share the evolution of design here.